How to Provide Better Care for a Farm Cat to Extend Their Lifespan

Farm cats are often forced to survive for themselves. Some ideas on how farmers can take better care of their barn cats to keep them healthy and give them longer lives.

Many farmers keep cats for mousers. Some of these cats are well looked after but many farm cats are not. Most farmers simply view cats as helpers, but not as companions. Some farmers view them as nuisances as their population numbers soon climb out of control.  Often unvaccinated, not wormed, and sometimes underfed in the mistaken belief they will be better mousers, many farm cats die young.

In fairness to the cats as fellow living creatures, this is a proper guide to their care as small guardians of the farm.

Farm cats should be kept socialized to people. Some people think that by estranging a cat they will make it tougher and a better mouser. This is incorrect. In truth most people do not bother socializing their farm cats simply because they do not want to start letting the cats into the house. Cats can be kept friendly and kept outside too. A friendly cat is easier to catch if it needs to be taken to the veterinarian for any reason and will be social to kids or grandkids who come for a visit.

Cats, all cats, should be spayed or neutered once they reach the age of sexual maturity. For females this is six months of age, for males this is between eight and ten months of age. Spaying or neutering reduces a cats desire to wander, and will help them to remain healthier, in fact it removes the threat of them developing some cancers. More than anything desexing a farm cat slows the problem of the farm cat population from skyrocketing out of control (often farmers kill excess kittens if they don't starve to death first).

Vaccinations are also important. Sadly some rural people couldn't be bothered with the expenses of vaccinations, but vaccinations can save a lot of money in the long run. Some cat diseases can remain in the environment for long periods of time and will kill generation after generation of farm cat. Rabies is something very well worth vaccinating against as farm cats are often in contact with other animals, such as bats, rats, and so forth, who could carry this deadly disease.

Deworming is another medical consideration. A cat with worms needs to eat more to survive, but additionally it will shed worms into the environment, tapeworm is a particular concern because other species of animal can be infected too.

Cats should be treated for fleas if they have them. Fleas can spread tapeworm but also cause major distress and suffering.

Binx is a cat who was left on the farm when his owners who moved out.  Photo by Author.

Feeding a cat does not make it a worse mouser. Sadly this is one thing that many farmers actually do not understand. So many think that by starving their barn cats they will be better mousers. In truth they will only kill as many mice as they need to survive, whereas a well fed cat will be more active and will kill out of fun, often killing more mice than the starving cat. Additionally cats forced to survive by eating mice alone will often be full of worms that they picked up from the mice.

Farm cats should have a fresh water source year round. Yes, they can go get a drink out of the water trough, but that usually requires them to perch awkwardly on the edge, risking a fall into the water (not good particularly in the winter). Instead farm cats should be provided with a proper water bowl, ideally one that is heated in the winter so it does not freeze.

Most cats are allowed into the house for the winter months (if not all year) but farm cats are seldom given this luxury. These cats should be given a warm place to sleep in the winter, access to a warm barn or shed. A pile of straw, or box with blankets, in the corner of the barn, or in the feed room, is a great place for a cat to sleep.

Ideally farm cats will be provided with a litter box in the barn for the winter time, otherwise they may use the barn floor, and nobody wants that.

Sadly many farmers view life and death on the farm harshly out of concerns with money. Expenses on a cat seem like unnecessary, especially since there are so many risks of death to a farm cat. One thing is certain though, many of the expenses actually reduce the possibility of death of these cats.

Farmers in need of cats would be wise to note that some shelters adopt out semi-feral cats at low cost or none at all, and these cats are usually already spayed or neutered, and up to date on their vaccinations, they just need a home.

Related Reading

Should Cats be Allowed Outside?

Ten Questions to Ask Before getting a Cat

Cats Not Using the Litter Box

What Kind of Livestock can be kept Together

Four Novelty Animals no Farm should be Without

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Posted on Sep 11, 2009

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How to Make Homemade Dog Food

Making your own dog food is an easy way to be sure the food your dog is eating is healthy for him and always safe.

The past few years the quality of many of the commercial dog food brands has come in to question. Many dog foods contain corn, which is nothing but filler, questionable meat bi-products, chemicals and preservatives. Multiple dog food scares have left owners uncertain on what brands are safe to feed their beloved pets. More and more people are choosing to feed their dogs something different from commercial food. Many people are feeding their dogs a raw diet and loving it. Those who would like an alternative to commercial food but are not quite comfortable with a raw diet, making your own dog food might be a perfect compromise.

Making your own dog food is quite easy to do and can be done for cheaper than buying a high quality commercial dog food. Homemade food can also be made in large amounts and frozen so you do not need to spend time daily making it. There are many dog food recipes online but it is just as easy to make your own. Be sure the foods you use are safe and that the food consists of 30% starch, 30% vegetable and 40% meat.

For the starch, brown rice, oats or pasta work well.

Vegetables and fruits you can choose from are carrots, squash, pumpkin, cucumber, cauliflower, yams, sweet potatoes, lettuce, beets, peas, parsnips, zucchini, watermelon, other melons, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples (no seeds, they are poisonous), cooked beans.

Lean beef, lamb, skinless chicken, venison, buffalo, elk, moose, musk Ox, turkey, rabbit, duck, boneless fish, cooked eggs, small amounts of beef and chicken liver are all excellent meat choices.

Vegetables/fruits that are not safe to use are spinach, beet greens, chard, onions, garlic, leek, tomato, potato, bell peppers, corn on the cob/corn, grapes, raisins, rhubarb, mushrooms, avocadoes, broccoli and raw beans.

Chicken skin and fat trimming are not healthy and raw fish should be avoided. Tuna sadly contains too much mercury to be safe. Large amounts of Liver can cause Vitamin A toxicity so should never be given.

Nutmeg, sugar, chocolate, nuts, milk, yeast dough, seeds and fruit pits, wheat, baby food, coffee/tea, hops, potato, salt, dairy products, apple seeds, apricot/cherry/peach pits and mustard seeds should never be given.

Calcium is also a vital aspect of your dog’s diet and can by simply added by topping their food each night with some unflavoured no fat yogurt. Yogurt can help dogs keep a balanced digestive tract and can help stop gassiness.

A few points to keep in mind:

Fresh or frozen veggies are best; do not use canned veggies as they have additives.

Dogs have shorter digestive tracts than humans have and cannot digest most vegetables whole or in large chunks. Be sure to mash vegetables up well.

Remember to feed no white coloured/bleached foods. When possible try to avoid wheat too, as it tends to make dogs gassy.

All Fish and Pork should be well cooked.

A canine multivitamin can be added to insure he gets everything he needs.

When preparing homemade dog food, it is best to vary the recipes so that your dog gets an array of nutrients.

Talk to your vet before changing to a homemade diet.

All meat should be lean and not covered in fat.

Feeding a homemade diet does take more work than simply buying a bag of kibble. However, knowing you are doing the best you can to keep your dog healthy is well worth the effort.

Why Do Cats Pee on Beds, Towels, and Dirty Laundry?

Why do cats urinate on beds, clothing, towels, and so forth? Learn what to do if a cat is peeing on items other than in its litter box. Why is my cat peeing on my bed? Why does my cat always urinate in the laundry? What is wrong with my cat she is always peeing on towels? Why dogs my male cat pee on my dirty clothing?

Some cat owners will have a strange thing happen at some time or another... their cat will pee on their bed. We all know cats are suppose to urinate in their litter box, but what are the reasons that some don't?

Some of the places that cats will select to urinate, other than their litter box, are on a bed, sofa, towels, laundry, or even carpeting. You will note they seldom pee on the floor. Just to clear things up – we are not referring to “Spraying” or marking behavior which is most often seen in male cats and is characterized by them standing with their rear end facing a (usually) vertical surface. They “shoot” their urine, and typically twitch their tail at this time.  This article is about cats who empty their bladder on the bed, towels, and such, rather than "marking territory" with small amounts of urine.

There are basically three reasons why cats pee on the bed, towels, or what have you. One is that they have a reason for not using their litter box (there are many reasons for this), an other is because you have made these sources available to them, and finally it is because these things smell like you. Let us look into these factors further.

Reasons for a Cat Not Using the Litter Box

There are a multitude of reasons cats fail to use their litter box to urinate. They could have a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), they could have a behavioral problem, or somehow you failed to keep the litter clean, locatable, and of the right type of litter. Perhaps another cat is not allowing them to use their litter box, or the door was shut to the room where it is.

There are so many reasons, in fact, that if a cat is having this problem, one should try to determine the source, a link is available here to help finding out the cause of a cats refusal to use the litter box.

Available Sources

Peeing on the floor is not fun, it splatters, and cats know this. They sometimes have the same problem when their litter box gets so low that all the litter is piled up on one side of the box. They know that fabric is absorbent, and will not cause urine to splatter on their legs.  When a kitten cannot find a litter box it will look to whatever is available.

Smells Like You

Your bed, your towels, your dirty laundry on the floor, these things all smell like you. Of course people will try saying that your cat is marking your stuff as its own, but really we do not know what the cat is thinking when it urinates on your bed or clothing. Many theories exist, including that they use this as a way of stating their anger with you, but this is really just guess work. The fact is your cat does not pee on you (hopefully), just your soft stuff, so perhaps your cat thinks of this in a familiar sort of way.

What Can be Done to Prevent, or End, the Problem of a Cat Peeing on your Stuff

Assuming again that the cat is spayed or neutered, and is not spraying... and assuming the cat is not suffering from any kind of urinary tract infect, diabetes, and so forth, there are some things we can do. First amend the problem as mentioned in the link also mentioned above relating to why it cats fail to use the litter box in the first place.

Keep bedroom doors shut and/or keep clothing picked up or in a hamper (with a lid). Try spending a few minutes every day with the cat, patting it, or giving it treats. Keep the home as stress free as possible (do not allow kids to chase your cats). If you must, shut the cat up in the room where the litter box is located at night (with food and water of course), or when you are away, thus reinforcing it to use the litter box, but only if you have filled it with the correct litter, and it is placed in an appropriate spot to begin with (not next to a laundry machine or furnace).

Be aware that cats do not understand discipline for this problem. Rubbing the cats nose in “it” will not help, and may only add to the stress and confusion the cat is experiencing – thus making the problem worse.

Please read the link on why cats fail to use their litter box as this is the start to the problem of them using your bed, towels, and so forth, as a litter option.

What to Do? My Cat Has a Runny Nose

When the cat sneezes for several hours and then the sneezing suddenly stops, then it may be because of an irritation in the nose. When the cat grabs its nose and sneezes hard, then something may have been stuck in its nose. If the cat sneezes and has sniffles for a whole day, then it may have a respiratory infection.

Overview

The nose is a vital part of the cat’s ability to perceive his surroundings. His sense of smell is often remarkable as he can smell all sorts of scents. His sense of smell however, may get affected due to several illnesses caused by viruses, pollens and bacteria. Some of these may manifest with symptoms of a runny nose, sneezing and fever. It is important for cat owners to isolate their sick cat from other pets in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Owners are also encouraged to bring their cat to the vet for evaluation.

But can a cat get a runny nose cold from being too cold? How do cats cope with this cold? These are just some of the more common questions that cat owners pose regarding the health of their pet cat when the cat is exposed to cold weather or especially during winter.

During Cold Weather

When the cat is exposed to cold temperatures during cold weather, the nose of the feline becomes dry. This usually results in the drying of the nose’s sensitive membrane which blocks irritants that cause colds. When the sensitive membrane is unable to block off pollens, bacteria and viruses from passing into the respiratory system of the cat, the feline becomes more susceptible to infection that usually results in a runny nose.

Symptoms

The most prominent sign of cat nasal infection is the presence of a thick mucus coming out from the cat’s nose. Other symptoms of cat colds include heavy breathing, lethargy, sneezing, and breathing through its mouth. Runny nose among cats is characterized by a watery discharge from the nose for a few hours, which in such case, the cat should be brought to a veterinarian. The discharge may also turn yellow and this is often associated with a bacterial infection.

Sneezing

When the cat sneezes for several hours and then the sneezing suddenly stops, then it may be because of an irritation in the nose. When the cat grabs its nose and sneezes hard, then something may have been stuck in its nose. If the cat sneezes and has sniffles for a whole day, then it may have a respiratory infection.

Remedies

It is recommended that cats with colds are brought to a veterinarian given the complex nasal passages of the feline. Veterinarians usually advise cat owners to increase air humidity using a vaporizer particularly in a small space to help in liquifying the nasal discharge. A humidifier can also help stop nasal irritation.

Veterinarians also will prescribe antibiotics to help the feline avoid certain bacterial infections, allowing its body to fight to resist the viral infection that caused the cold. Veterinarians will also look into the symptoms and its eating behavior.

Prevention

So can a cat get a runny nose cold from being too cold? The answer is yes. It is therefore best to take measures to avoid exposing the cat for prolonged periods in cold weather. Many owners opt to keep their pets indoor during these conditions.